This is Episode 046 of the Ask a Table Tennis Coach podcast. Today’s question comes from Richard and is about how to get maximum spin on your serves.
“How far should you flick your wrist back for maximum spin on serves? Some players seem to really flick their wrist all the way back. So the bat is pointing in the opposite direction to the table or even further back than that. I’m not sure if they all do it and some professional players seem to do it really quickly so it’s difficult to tell. Also, should you let the ball sink into the sponge or is it more about grazing the ball using the top sheet for maximum spin on your serves?”
I want to start off by saying that Brett Clark has got some of the best service tutorials I’ve ever seen on table tennis service. You can go and find those on YouTube. Brett is an Australian table tennis player and coach to the Australian national team. A really high level player and coach; you should definitely check those out.
He talks a lot about the whip effect that you need in order to get maximum spin on your serves and how that comes from the forearm and wrist. The key really is having a relaxed arm and wrist then letting that naturally flick to the ball so just you’re just swinging your arm back and forward nice and relaxed.
That’s what is going to generate the whip and thus generate spin. It’s all about accelerating your arm on contact with the ball. So you want the bat to be moving as fast as possible. The best way to do that is relax and whip your arm while brushing the ball finely.
The second part of the question – you do need to be grazing the ball to get maximum spin. If you’re hitting it and letting it sink into the sponge it will produce a faster serve. But this will make it difficult for you to get spin and to keep the ball short as it will be sending it quite long and fast.
Just brush it with the top sheet. Chinese players are all really great at this and they tend to use hard sponge tacky Chinese rubbers. Which are obviously going to make it easier to graze the ball and not have it sink into the sponge.
That just means because you are putting all of the force and energy into spinning the ball instead of hitting the ball and this is what you want to do on your serves.
Go for that wrist whip as this is what all of the top players would be doing on their serves. You’re right that it’s going to be difficult to see that sometimes because if you’re getting that whip right the bat’s going to flick back and forwards so quickly that you might not catch it.
As I always say try not to consciously force the wrist back and forth as this is going to really mess things up. Sometimes people start thinking ‘I need to add wrist to my serve’ and they start to use the wrist consciously.
That’s not the way to do it. Just relax the arm and allow the hand to shake from side to side. A good way to try this out is to put your hand in the air and shake it really fast. What you’ll notice is that you’re not using your wrist muscles to quickly move your hand from right to left. All you’re doing is relaxing your wrist and quickly shaking your forearm while letting it shake the hand.
It’s going take some practice to get that right. Once you introduce the ball it does become more difficult. But you can have a go with some shadow serves and see how you go.
But keep trying and don’t give up. And have a look at Brett Clark’s service tutorials on YouTube, that’s a great start.
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Ask a Table Tennis Coach is a daily podcast featuring an actual table tennis question submitted by a table tennis player just like you. New bite-sized episodes are released five days a week, Monday through Friday.
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